J500 Media and the Environment

What is the deal with robots? by alejandrooj840
November 6, 2008, 2:52 pm
Filed under: Energy + Climate | Tags:

The problem with designing robots that understand their surroundings is that the world has just too much stuff in it. A robot crossing the street would see moving cars, parked cars, people, trees, trashcans, and hydrants. It would then see the antennas on the cars, an empty pack of gum in the trash. Then it would see the ingredients on the pack of gum; 523 words in all. Wait… did that leave move? Needless to say, our robot would be paralyzed.

After interviewing several people in the labor constituency I saw a kind of confusion I have myself experienced. “I read an article about polar bears”, “aren’t whales more important?… they are large mammals, you know”. “I heard that global warming might not be man made”. “Did you know that more carbon is spent manufacturing a Prius than any other car?”. “Will someone please think of the children!!”

Yes, there is much clutter out there, and it is difficult to discern what is the right way to go. Nobody is perfect and no action will be either. But we are not robots, we know to pay more attention to the moving cars than to the wrapper in the trash. That is the only way in which we can make it across the street.



3 Comments so far
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I could see the labor constituency being very polarized on environmental issues. I imagine some see the tremendous possibilities in “green” jobs. But others must have a terrible fear that green initiatives will cost them their jobs. And they’re hearing propaganda from both sides, hence the “clutter” that you referred to.

It’s going to be a very important group for CEP to tap into. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what your group learned.


Comment by chrisr11

I actually expected polarization as well. Instead, I was faced with blank stares and streams of consciousness that went nowhere. I think that they see green issues as being peripheral (like the wrapper in the trash). The messages have not been crafted as relevant to them. They have been created on a top-down, must-get-buy-in-from-top approach. While that approach is necessary, it should not be so at the cost of ignoring such a large demographic.
As far as “job fear”, blue collar workers appear to have a “will do what needs to be done” approach. Meaning, that if they loose their jobs to “green jobs” they will work in one, and vice versa.


Comment by alejandrooj840

Hey Alex. No need to comment on this one. Just wanted to say thank you. Your presentation was very insightful and interesting. I appreciate your efforts. Take care!

Comment by jillwilder14

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